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  • We had a really good time in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kashgar. All guides, drivers, accommodation and food was fantastic! We had plenty of positive experiences. The program worked perfectly and we are your happy customers.
    Assoc Prof Regine Wagner
    Visiting Fellow Flexible Learning Institute Charles Sturt University

  • We have had many guides in the course of our world travels, but never ever one any better than the guide from Roxana Tour He worked tirelessly for us night and day. His efforts for us were far beyond what would have been "good".
    Dr. Paul Hettinger
    Orlando, FL, USA 32818

  • I have been coming to Uzbekistan for 32 years and as a Tour leader for different companies, I can say that Roxana Tours is the best travel company in Uzbekistan I had in 32 years.
    Gary Wintz, LA
    Tour leader from ZOE and Mountain Sabeck

  • I wanted to drop you a quick e-mail thanking you for the outstanding tour you provided. From the time we arrived at Tashkent until we left, we had no problems and everything was first class.
    Richard L. Wolfel, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Geography
    United States Military Academy
    West Point, NY 10996

  • I am indeed impressed and would like to Thank you from the bottom of my heart, in fact you have not only gained my respect and admiration, I salute your efficiency, not to say the least, I am grateful I am sure I would not be traveling again to Uzbekistan without you definitely involved in my itinerary.
    Saud A.Al Jaidah
    CEO/ Al Jaidah Intl. Doha, Qatar

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 Central Asia being situated in the heart of Eurasian Continent had always played an important role in the history of humankind. This is the area of biggest deserts, highest mountain ranges and barren steppes where humans had to survive generation after generation, in the course of millenniums. The archeological excavations finds, which you may  see during Central Asia Tours, proved the existence of first humanoids on the territory of present day Uzbekistan at least 1.5 million years ago.
 Two biggest rivers, Amudarya and Syrdarya, along with Zerafshan, Chirchik and others  became the channels of life and water from this rivers was used for irrigation of lands thus creating the centers of some of the oldest civilizations in the history. The migrations of Indo-European nomadic tribes in the 3rd millennium BC, was very important period in the history of Central Asia. As a result of it the first settlements were built on the banks of rivers and oasis areas. Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, which were the oldest cities established, are nowadays must-see cities during Central Asia Tours.
Another reason for formation of proto-urban, protected and fortified settlements was the division of local population into settled farmers and nomadic stock-breeders, the latter being a constant threat to the  previous. Sopollitepa settlement situated  in the south of modern Uzbekistan is a good sample dating back to Bronze Age.
The Iron Age was marked in Central Asia by establishment of states which are known today as Khorazm, Baktria and Sogdiana, which were subdued in the 6th century BC by Akhemenid Kings of Ancient Persia and became satrapies, though nominally they were semi-independent and were governed by dynasties of  local aristocracy. After Persia was conquered by Alexander the Great, chasing the last King Darius, Alexander arrived to Bactria and Sogdiana where he spent 2 years, trying to establish his power and peace, in which he succeeded finally after marrying the beautiful Sogdian girl Roxana.  The next two centuries passed under Hellenistic influence. Majority of Central Asia Tours cover the areas of campaigns and routes of Alexander the Great.
From the 2nd century BC until 7th century AD Central Asia was in the sphere of interests   of two greatest empires of that time – China and Iran. This period is marked by heyday of trade along the greatest trade route in the history – Great Silk Road, as it was called many centuries later.  The Sogdians were the people who acted as middlemen, creating their trading colonies from Xian to Constantinople and they have always cept in touch with their home office in Samarkand which is one of the major attractions on Central Asia Tours.
The next period in the history of Central Asia was marked by Arab`s Invasion. The Arabs, newly converted to Islam be Prophet Mohammed, came with the sword in one hand and Koran on the other. The conquest and conversion of Central Asia to Islam took nearly a century.  Later Al Beruny wrote that as a result of slaughter of Zoroastrian priesthood and ideological war after a generation none of the locals could read the old sacred Zoroastrian scripts. The witnesses to all this are well displayed in museums which are part of Central Asia Tours.
But Islam brought not only the new religion. It also brought new ideology, new philosophy and made the Central Asia part of the Greater World after joining to Arab Khalifat, stretching from India to Spain and from Northern Steppes to Africa. Some of the greatest scholars of humanity were born in Central Asia and nowadays the names of  Ibn Sina, Al Beruny, Al Khorazmy and others are known around the world.
The Mongol Invasion in the 13th century changed the map of  anthropological and ethnic types of Central Asia.  The invaders occupied the vast grasslands and plains and indigenous, mostly Sogdian and Bactrian population was trapped in the cities or driven to mountainous areas. The nomadic Turkic tribes who constituted large portion of Mongol Army slowly-slowly started intermixing with Mongols, passing them their language and getting Mongol features for themselves.  The result is evident today. During the Central Asia Tours one can see that  modern Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks of steppe areas have strong Mongoloid type, while urban Uzbeks and Tadjiks have  none or minimal Mongol influence in their features.
Until the beginning of 20th century borders between the states were political but not ethnic. In 1924 only under the Soviets Central Asia was divided into five Soviet  republics and nowadays those are the borders of independent countries which you can visit during Central Asia Tour.



                                                                     

 

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Top 5 Places to Visit in Tajikistan


Ever since Soviet times, Tajikistan has been one of the most neglected countries on the map and it seems to be that way even today. But there’s no reason why it should remain this way! Tajikistan has just as much to offer as any other country, especially when considering its pristine and unforgettable mountain views, historical treasures, and cultural uniqueness. Therefore, I think it would be quite appropriate to outline five of the top sites and things to do while visiting Tajikistan.

Pamir Mountains
While always having been a magnet for hard-core trekkers, it is possible for casual hikers to enjoy the magnificent beauty of the Pamirs, too. If you aren’t interested to tighten the laces on your hiking boots through the western arm of the Himalaya Mountain Range, you can capture the adventure by traveling on the world famous Pamir Highway (M41) that takes you from Dushanbe and eastward into the Pamir Mountains and onwards to the northeast where Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan meet. Five Stans Adventure offers tour packages that can accommodate any hiker who’s in reasonable shape to enjoy the scenery, or for those who wish to venture on their own choice of transportation.

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Dushanbe
While it is the capital of Tajikistan and its largest city, Dushanbe still has the feel of a large village. People on the street are kind and curious. There are many things to do in the city, and much depends on your interests. In my experience of living in the city, my top choice for my guests was the Ayni Opera and Ballet Theater. A wonderful example of Soviet architecture, you can even find the time to catch a performance!

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 Gissar Fort
The city of Gissar is only a short 15 km drive from Dushanbe, so take advantage of the moment to visit this ancient wonder. It was once an independent khanate, and it was the winter residence of the governor of Eastern Bukhara. The fort has been dated to Cyrus the Great – about 2,500 years ago. Near the fort there are two huge plane trees that are approximately 500-700 years old.


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Iskandarkul Lakes
Surrounded by the Fann Mountains, this glacially-formed lake comes as one of the most preferred destinations by the locals. The lake’s name comes from Alexander the Great, who passed through this area during his conquests. To gain a full appreciation of the beauty this lake possesses, it is best to set up camp and enjoy Mother Nature at its most pristine.


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Khorog
Located in eastern Tajikistan, Khorog is known for its beautiful poplar trees that dominate the flora of the city. It is 7,200 feet above sea level and lies on the border with Afghanistan. If anything, it’s the trip to Khorog that will give you lasting memories, whether it’s by jeep or airplane.

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Posted by Greg Stephenson at 9:25 AM

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Top 5 Place to Visit in Kazakhstan

 By far, Kazakhstan is the largest of the 5 ‘stans. In fact, the country is big enough to cover most of Europe! So as you can probably guess, it is a big challenge to name the top 5 tourist attract
ions in a country so large. Geographically diverse in many ways, this list will remain perpetually malleable. Five Stans Adventure offers tours to all of these locations, and a lot more. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions about our itineraries.

So, here we go!

Almaty
Almaty is a cosmopolitan city that walks with a purpose. It’s easy to get around on public transportation to see the things that appeal to you, and there are plenty of those! However, I highly recommend that you visit the Zenkov Cathedral of the Holy Ascension. Construction of the wooden church was completed in 1906 and amazingly done without nails. A few years later, its design was strong enough to survive the earthquake in 1911. Simply put, it is a beautiful example of Orthodox Church architecture.

 


Astana
Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997. Located in the northern part of the country, the city has witnessed a huge construction boom over the years. One of the examples of this construction is the Bayterek Tower. This 105 meter-high monument and observation tower has become the symbol of the country and even appears on the Kazakh tenge (currency). The shape of the tower represents a poplar tree holding a golden egg, which comes from one of the popular folk tales of Turkic legend.


Taraz
The city of Taraz has been dated to be 2,000 years old, which is well before my time. Located near the border with Kyrgyzstan, the city arbitrarily celebrated its 2K anniversary in 2001. The city boasts of two architectural wonders that cannot be ignored. One is the Babaji-Khatun Mausoleum and the other is the Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum. They are masterpieces of ancient architecture and have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Babaji-Khantun Mausoleum circa. 11th-12th A.D.

 

Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum circa. 11th-12th A.D.

 Chimbulak
Chimbulak is a ski resort located 25 km from Almaty in the breathtaking Zailiyskiy Alatau Mountains. While I’m not a skier, if I was I would certainly want to go here. If I went there, they have trainings and the slopes to accommodate the novice. On the other hand, if you can ski like a professional, there are plenty of slopes that can give you the “high” that only this sport can give. When you’re ready to take a break, the resort boasts of a hotel, restaurants, cafes, and a coffee shop. In the summer, it doubles as a place to go hiking and camping.

 
Baikanur Cosmodrome
The Baikanur Cosmodrome is the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility and is located about 124 miles east of the Aral Sea. This site is leased to the Russian Federation by the Kazakhs and is managed by the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.  It is used for all types of commercial, military, and scientific missions, and currently is the only space port that launches manned flights in the world. There are opportunities to travel to Baikanur to witness the lift-off of all types of rockets.

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 9:25 AM

 

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The comfortable speed train shuttles passengers between Tashkent and Samarkand.


Wouldn't it be great to be able to travel from Central Asia to China by rail? I've always wanted to do this, but there’s never been a connection between the two. As a friend of mine told me today, “I’d much prefer to travel the Great Silk Road by train than by hopping from region to region by airplane.” With the news out of Uzbekistan today, it appears that we’re one step closer to realizing this dream.

On November 29, Uzbekistan and China signed agreements worth $400 million on Friday, with China financing two tunnels on a railway linking eastern Uzbekistan to the rest of the country.

Uzbekistan is building a 120-kilometer link to go through the imposing Kamchik Pass and China will finance its most difficult tunnels for $350 million, according to the AFP news agency. The Kamchik Pass is 2,267 meters above sea level and is located on the only road between Tashkent and the Ferghana Valley. Once this link is completed, it will facilitate the connection to China.

When this railroad link is successfully completed, not only will it open markets between China and Central Asia, but it could facilitate the transportation of travelers in both directions.

The deal was inked during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Uzbekistan, where he met President Islam Karimov late Thursday. Other deals aim to boost cooperation in banking, tax, tourism and culture.

The future looks very good for traveling by train along the Great Silk Road!

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 12:47 PM

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Golfing in Central Asia

The Lakeside Golf Club near Tashkent, Uzbekistan

 Golfing??? In Uzbekistan??? What???

That was my first reaction when a friend asked if I wanted to hit the links. While I’m not a golfer, I have played the game a few times in my life with little to show for my effort. I just couldn’t get the hang of hitting that little ball straight. Despite this, I always enjoyed the camaraderie that goes with the game. And that was the only reason that I went to play golf in the first place. I went to the course in Tashkent twice and had a great time.

If you are an avid golfer and you want to play while you are touring Central Asia, then I highly recommend that you hit the links in Tashkent. The Lakeside Golf Club is 18 miles south of Tashkent and features 7,015 yard, 18-holes, and two lakes on the 265 acre property. The clubhouse offers a fully stocked pro shop, a restaurant, and alcoholic beverages.

Kyrgyzstan opened its first golf course in 2002 and it’s located about 20 minutes from Bishkek. Named the Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club, the 9-hole, 3,289 yard, and par 39 course offers breathtaking views of the Tien Shan Mountains. The clubhouse offers a pro shop and bar; a driving range is available, too.

Kazakhstan has two golf courses that are open to the public. The first is the Zhailjau Golf Resort which is located close to Almaty. Opened in 2006, there are two 18-hole courses available for play and both of them are a par 72. This course is part of a huge complex that has a restaurant, conference rooms, spa, and fitness rooms. A driving range is available, too.

The second course is located close to Almaty and is called the Nurtau Golf Club. Opened in 1996 as a 9-hole course, it has expanded over the years and today has three courses available for play and all are a par 72. To accommodate the growing interest in golf in Kazakhstan, Nurtau offers a children’s academy, golf pros to help your game, and tournaments for both men and women.

Turkmenistan has announced that it will construct a golf course at Avaza, a tourist zone that’s located on the Caspian Sea. Check with our staff to learn the latest news of this new development.

Tajikistan has announced that they are going to construct their own golf course in Dushanbe, but little information is available on its status. Plans have been drawn for the Sogdiana Golf Club, but it appears that its construction is at a standstill.

If you’ve got a few spare hours and you’d like to add an exotic course to your “resume”, I suggest taking advantage of the facilities that are available in Central Asia. Check with our staff at Roxana Tour for the latest information on green fees and availability. I can assure you that you’ll have a great time!

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 2:46 PM

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